Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little BWOs)
3. Little Winter Stoneflies
4. Little Brown Stoneflies
5. Quill Gordons
6. Blue Quills
7. Little Black Caddis
Most available - Other types of food:
8. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing School - The Dropper Rig - Good or Bad?
First, for those that are not familiar, a dropper rig is dry fly of some type with a short length of tippet tied to it
(usually the bend of the hook) to which another fly is tied, usually a nymph or larva imitation. If you want to
start a fight among anglers, just announce dropper rigs are the only way to go, or just the opposite of that
and announce dropper rigs lower you odds of success.
First, let me write that fly fishing dropper rigs are very popular. One reason for that is the guides use them
frequently; however, in most cases there's a reason for it that may surprise you. Some guides, those with the
title but without the qualifications they should have, use them simply because they copy other guides and
because it helps prevents the bottom fly from getting hung. Their clients usually catch more fish using them
than they would otherwise. Most of the well qualified guides use them again, because their clients can catch
more trout using them; however, there's a reason for that well worth looking at.
Whether dropper rigs are good or bad depends on the skill of the angler. If the angler knows what he is
doing, well practiced, and is willing to concentrate on fishing to the point he or she can detect strikes on a
nymph or larva imitation without it having to sink a dry fly to catch their attention, then his or her odds are
much better without the dropper. In essence, the dry fly serves as a strike indicator. For those just starting
out that have fished for panfish, a strike indicator is nothing more or less than a float. If one isn't willing to
practice fishing a nymph or larvae imitation using the best techniques, meaning without using a dropper rig,
and if they are willing to concentrate on watching and feeling their fly line and leader to the point they can
detect trout taking their fly, then they are far better off without a dropper rig.
I rarely use one and when I do, it's for a special set of circumstances. I never use one on the streams of
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When I do otherwise, it's usually where the bottom is fairly level or flat
(constant water depth) and the surface is rough enough that it's difficult to keep in contact with the fly both
visually and by feel.
A dropper rig keeps the bottom fly at a constant depth. Mayfly and stonefly nymphs need to be fished on the
bottom. Rarely do they drift above the bottom in a mid-column of water. This means the bottom fly is rarely
where it needs to be presented and where trout are looking for food. In streams with varying depths, like
most all the water in the Smokies, the bottom fly is rarely presented where it need to be presented. It may
well poorly imitate an emerging nymph or larva rising to the surface during a hatch, but again that insect
would be accenting from the bottom to the surface, not drifting at a constant depth.
If your using two flies because you don't know whether it's more productive to be fishing on the surface or on
below the surface, then you need to learn more about when, where and what the trout feed on. If you
understand the food the trout survive on well enough, you won't need to be trying to use two flies at the
I don't want to insult those that use a dropper rig. I know some good anglers that use them but most of them
do so far a particular reason and purpose that's sensible. It's impossible to identify all the situations where a
dropper rig may work well. I can say such circumstances are not common.
If you imitate the behavior of a nymph emerging realistically, or a pupa or larva emerging realistically, then a
dropper rig would make that impossible.
If you don't want to go to the trouble to use the best methods and techniques, or if your a little lazy and don't
want to have to concentrate on your fishing continuously, a dropper rig may well be the best way for you to
go. You will probably catch more trout using one.
For those that (1) take their fishing seriously; (2) know what they are doing with regards as to what the trout
are focusing on and feeding on; (3) are willing to practice making good presentations that imitate the natural
food behavior; (4) are willing to concentrate on their fishing, then except for various isolated circumstances,
are far better off not using a dropper rig.
So, to be short and to the straight to the point, dropper rigs are good for lazy, mediocre anglers.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
New Schedule of Daily
Mondays: Weather and Stream
Conditions Forecast - Coming Week
Tuesdays: Fly Fishing Strategies -
Which Flies To Use - Coming Week
Wednesday: Fishing Tales
Thursday: Smoky Mountains Fishing
Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout
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fishing the park and we will send
you a list of our fly suggestions.
Please allow up to 24 hours for a
2. Call us at 800-594-4726 and we
will help you decide which flies you
3. Call or email us with a budget for
flies and we will select them and get
them to you in time for your trip.
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